Cod with Asparagus, Lemon and Saffron, and Bloggers Block

Cod with asparagus (6 of 6)You know the feeling. The moment after you tell your better half that yes, her bum does look big in that. There are times where you really wish that you could rewind the clock a little bit. Reversing the car into that ‘hidden’ pole. Standing up in the kitchen and catching the corner of your head on the corner of a cupboard door. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a 30 second rewind. 

Not that there was any need for a rewind while I prepared Cod with Asparagus, Lemon and Saffron. That went swimmingly (fish pun). My problems started while I was cogitating what to write by way of introduction to this dish. Nobody had abused me in the shop. There was no witty banter with which to regale ye. The cooking all went to plan. I was reasonably happy with the photos. No, I was suffering a bout of Bloggers Block. It’s a well recognised medical condition somewhat like Writers Block except it is a little less pompous and tends to not be used as an excuse for drinking too much and  not publishing a novel on time.

I have a number of strategies to get over the dreaded BB. One favoured approach is to type the recipe name into the header bar, upload a photo and then stare at the screen. This approach has limited success but it allows one to feel one has achieved something. The sense of achievement tends to eventually spur the brain into action and ultimately, the story to flow.

This time, I had shot the preparation, cooked the dish, took more photos, ate it, enjoyed it, processed the shots, uploaded the feature photo and then sat without any thoughts arising. I typed in the name of the dish. There then followed a protracted bout of Bloggers Block. I spent at least half an hour screen staring. I became restless. I shifted position and inadvertently hit the “PUBLISH” button. NOOOOOOOOOOOO! My title and photo were out there for all to see. My followers received a metaphorical fish-slap in the Facebook. A cod (in every sense) tweet was tweeted. Email followers received a pfish-spam-like note. Those on Google+ were left goggle eyed.  Boy, could I have done with the time-rewind button.

All of this got me into a sweat and got me thinking about what to write in this post. So in a roundabout way, the screen staring worked, again. Here’s what went into it:


  • 2 serving size pieces of fresh Atlantic cod
  • 10 asparagus spears
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 splashes of dry white wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • Enough baking parchment to make two generous parcels

Side note on saffron: Spend the money. Or get somebody you know to spend it for you. A good friend of the Wife brought me back some lovely Greek saffron from a recent holiday. Don’t get the cheap stuff that they sell by the quarter kilo. It’s a waste of money.

Lay 5 asparagus spears on the centre of one of the parchment sheets. Sit a piece of cod on top. Season with salt and pepper.

No wonder I could not think what to write. There's very little to this dish.

No wonder I could not think what to write. There’s very little to this dish.

Slice the lemon and add it like in the photo. Add a pinch of saffron. Make a parcel and before closing, apply one of the splashes of wine.

My wine choice - One of our trophies from our French retreat.

My wine choice – One of our trophies from our French retreat.

Close the parcels and pop them into a 180º C (360º F) oven for 15 minutes. Just enough time to chill the wine in the freezer.

The parcels are the culinary equivalent of a nice lady in an almost see through dress.

The parcels are the culinary equivalent of a nice lady in an almost see through dress.

After 15 minutes, everything should be cooked to perfection. Lift everything out with a fish slice (what else) and pour the juices over.

A sneak peek at the delicious aromatic dish.

A sneak peek at the delicious aromatic dish.

The saffron works wonders and is beautiful with the asparagus. I served it with a simple chive sauce and some new season potatoes.

Chive sauce is a white sauce with chives in. Nothing more complicated needed.

Chive sauce is a white sauce with chives in. Nothing more complicated needed.

Bloggers Block defeated once again. And what a way to do it. If you can get fresh (really fresh) cod, this dish is a must try. It worked just perfectly with the Montreval wine too.

Final note of thanks: A big THANK YOU to ye who contacted me with kind words when I inadvertently posted this before. A big BOOOO to the only one who used it as an excuse to have a go at me. You know who you are. 

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Latest comments
  • This fish looks the absolute business, love saffron. Thanks for sharing your BB issues and suchforth. It helps this somewhat novice blogger to feel like less of a galah for the mis-steps and blank moments I have suffered thus far. 🙂

    • In truth, I have four recipes devised, cooked and shot. I haven’t a clue what I am going to write about for them. One dates back to last winter and I have to wait until the weather cools off to think about posting it. As they say “If it were easy, everybody would be doing it.”

  • That looks beautiful!
    I have 10 posts in my drafts folder that are technically ready to go, but for some reason I can’t bring myself to publish them yet. Daft isn’t it?

    • I do remember one day when I managed to post three at the same time. I was mortified and also saw three week’s ‘work’ disappear in a couple of seconds. Not good.

  • So good to hear that having a few posts floating around unpublished is normal!

    • Unwritten is the painful bit. I am a bit up-tight about not having any posts ‘in the locker’. I try to always have three weeks to a month ready to go. That way, when that bus that we all keep hearing about runs me over, I can live on in cyberspace for a month or so. Not that that is my plan but, just in case….

  • Rough times my friend. BB is a nasty beast of a thing.
    Got it out there in the end though. Good to see! 🙂

  • The cod looks beautiful, Conor. You are so right about the saffron. A gram of good saffron is more expensive than a gram of gold (I checked). Luckily about a euro’s worth will do for a dish like this.
    I know it’s useless telling you this, but I’m going to do so anyway: your photos speak for themselves, so there is no reason for writer’s block.
    PS: “Darling, your big bum looks nice in that almost see through dress.”

    • Thanks Stefan. I must buy some gold leaf for a saffron and gold topped something. Probably a fish so we could get some weights and scales (geddit) action going. What about a gold v saffron cook off. That would be funny. And, yes, I know about my bum. But, how did you know I was wearing “that dress”.

  • “A metaphorical fish-slap in the Facebook”


    My personal technique for overcoming BB is to leave the offending document open on the laptop, on the desk. Then to do every physical job that could possibly be done in the room without making eye contact with the screen, making it as awkward as possible, until one of us breaks and writes something.

    • Good approach. Sometimes, one just has to close it down. Make a point of not thinking about it and let the subconscious take over. A few days later, the idea is there, ready to go. That’s why I like to have time on my side between cooking and posting.

      • Yeh I’m getting better at cooking in advance and having them “mature” if you will in the back of my mind for a few days instead of rushing them out in the same afternoon.

        • The best way. Though, I do often have the story first and then can’t wait to do the cooking to tie it all together. Though these are the rare exceptions.

          • Those beautiful moments of narrative clarity. God I wish I had more of those.

  • Ah yes, the dreaded BB. Nothing a spot of tasty dinner won’t fix, usually… Sounds like you’ve suffered an extreme case. My sympathies.

    • Thanks Kate,
      I am looking forward to a very tasty risotto this evening too. The great thing is I cooked and photographed the same dinner a couple of weeks ago. I am hoping for some inspiration from tonight’s efforts to get me writing.

  • It could have been me who had a pop – I wouldn’t remember I was probably drinking my way out of another serious bout of BB.

    • Glad I’m not alone in this. Glad I’m not the only one who pulls a cork to seek inspiration!

  • Like the saffron your posts are always top quality even with a slight case of writers block.

  • That looks like a beautiful piece of cod and great preparation! I got lucky yesterday in Morrison’s (not the plaice I’d usually go to buy fish), while stocking up on Barry’s Gold Blend. They had a nice hake fillet on special offer and when I asked for it the fishmonger was on a break. The butcher who served me couldn’t find the right price barcode so he gave me another pound off, charging me for a cheaper piece of fish 🙂

    • Hi MD, My daughter (Youngest) would well approve of your Barry’s addiction. She is likewise inclined. Good hake is a glorious fish. Good hake on the cheap is a double bonus. Do something special with it.

      • Barry’s is more addictive than heroin and until recently quite expensive in London. The hake made the trip to Morrison’s doubly worthwhile 🙂

        • Any time you need some, we can post a parcel. Don’t be shy. Barry’s, not the other stuff.

          • Thanks Conor, I really appreciate that. The supply chain has been very good lately, but until a year or so ago it was only available in Irish butcher’s shops and there were a few droughts. As a result I try to keep a healthy stock of at least 3 boxes. When I go out to Spain I always have to traffic a few boxes for a friend 😉

  • What a gorgeous piece of fish. Such a simple recipe, but the addition of saffron really elevates it to gourmet. I’m so doing this on Monday. It will be hard for me to part with a few splashes of wine, but for the sake of a good meal, I’ll do it. Yum. What’s in that chive sauce? I want to do it exactly like yours.

    • Hi Amanda, Do splash the wine, it really helps. The sauce is a very simple one of flour, butter and milk with a handful of chives chopped in. Delicious!

      • Wonderful. Thank you. I’m glad there’s no heavy cream. I’m all about this recipe!

  • That looks amazing! Great use of saffron and parchment paper.

    • Thanks Adam. Good to see you visiting and saying nice things.

  • Too funny! I feel your BB. The fish looks yummy. Thanks for the parcel pic. I was thinking more UPS, and that could have gotten ugly!

    • I could have UPSed it to you Elen. Then you could have cooked it. Then I would have something to write about!

  • Conor, that’s a nice looking fish papoose and a great plating shot. 😉 You did such a nice job of tucking the cod into such a nice pleated papoose. I also love the flavor combo in addition to the cute little papoose treatment. I am, however, sorry your wonderful spouse told you your bum looked bigger in that outfit. It was probably in comparison to the nice lemon saffron cod in the cute little papoose. There is simply no competition. 😉

    • Papoose. Now there’s a word I have not heard since before Granny folded her tent. It’s one of those words of old-fashioned English comedy. One could even hear “does one’s papoose look big in this?” Thanks Richard.

  • Cod and saffron is such a lovely Persian combination, and I like the idea of lemon and asparagus to brighten the dish. 🙂

    • Hi Shanna,
      Persian. What an old-fashioned word. I like it! I wish I could find a use for it in my everyday life.

  • wow, lovely and comfoting ones Conor!!!
    Actually i prefer to rubbed my cod with the saffron instead putting it above the lemon, but it’s kinda dilemma because it won’t be as eye catchy as this version, lol
    Some lemony sumac and chili made it perfect for my licking thou….

    • I think you are accusing me of favouring form over function here Dedi. You are probably right. Why does your preference for the addition of chili not surprise me Dedi?

  • Your cod is so beautifully presented…what I would expect to see in a Michelin restaurant. Your story certainly came to you in a round about way…you did a fine job, my friend. I know exactly what you mean about BB, I have a post that just won’t come together. I’ve got good photos and recipe but the words just won’t come.

    • The story will get there Karen. The strange thing about the BB is that the story arrives eventually. Often, by the most circuitous route.

  • Love Cod fish and that sauce looks AMAZING!

    • Thanks Stephané,
      It was pretty good, if you will forgive my saying so myself.

  • I am catching up after a week’s vacation. My dilemma now is that I haven’t even had a chance to have BB since I haven’t been able to cook much since beginning our moving adventure a couple of months ago. However, we just got settled today in our new temporary home. I’m hoping to start posting new recipes soon! p.s. The cod and asparagus packets are delightful!

    • Thanks, I had noticed your absence. Life does get in the way sometimes!

  • It looks wonderful! I think that this one is a must try! Gee – I hope I was not the one…

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